Updated: May 5, 2021
Aliyah Date: August 2019 Made Aliyah from West Hartford, CT Currently living in Jerusalem
Nathan had always been involved in the Jewish community in his hometown. But what happens when you move to Israel and everyone is Jewish? How do you find the community then? Keep reading to find out how Nathan has found his way in Jerusalem!
Nathan Shachter grew up in a Jewish, Zionistic family. He had a relationship with Israel from a young age since he watched his older cousins grow up and make Aliyah. As a kid, he always looked forwards to his visits to Israel.
He grew up in a very Zionistic environment...he went to Jewish Day school, and they always had Shlichim, or Israeli Emissaries who defer army service after graduating high school and come to America. They were his peers. For all these reasons, Nathan was connected to Israel.
Then, in college, Nathan had the chance to understand and tour Israel with a more mature mindset and form his own opinions. He kept coming on trips -- Taglit, Onward Israel internship, and then he studied abroad here. On each trip, he stayed longer and longer. And then...he made Aliyah!
When he first got to Israel, he went to live with his boyfriend's family outside of Jerusalem while he settled in. This was an amazing experience for him -- he felt like he had a home base while he set up his life. He came right before the chagim in August, so everyone kept telling him "after the chagim."
So, what about finding a community?
First of all, Nathan knew he wanted to be in Jerusalem. That's where he feels most comfortable.
Because of all the programs and interactions with Israel over the years, Nathan has a really great friend base in Jerusalem. When he moved into his own place, he was worried about re-establishing friends. But he lives a 5-minute walk from his cousins and can stop by on Shabbat or during the week. Many of his friends on programs in Israel are making Aliyah, too!
But still...finding a community in Israel is different. As Nathan says, "You can't just do Jewish things!" He was always at Hillel in college and involved with events there...but in Israel, everyone is Jewish, so it changes things. When you make Aliyah, you have to find your hobbies. You have to really figure out what your interests are. There isn't just Jewish programming that you can default to. You only go to synagogue to pray--not to socialize necessarily. This is something to keep in mind!
In January, Nathan started his job as Donor Relations Manager for the Jewish Agency. He helps fundraise for the shlihut programs (like the ones that used to come to his school when he was young!) He helps bring American and Israeli Jews together.
Tips for Aliyah?
According to Nathan, no matter how much you think you know Israeli culture before Aliyah, it's a totally different playing field after. Taxes...jobs...apartments. Suddenly there is so much more you realize you have to learn! You have to learn the system.
You might have hard times but bask in the amazing days. The first year flies by!
In terms of jobs and networking, take time to meet as many people in your field (and not in your field) as possible. Ask for three people you can be connected to, and see what happens!
And try not to come with any expectations. Israel is not America, you need to have realistic expectations for HERE!